The other day, seven students from the Catholic Theological Academy were brought to my office by a professor, who is a priest. The visit was organized in order for the students to learn more about other Christian churches, especially the structure of the Kyodan, the major Protestant denomination, and to learn about the evangelistic work of the Kyodan. With somewhat nervous expressions on their faces, the seminarians diligently asked many questions about issues within the Kyodan as well as about the organization of the Kyodan. Perhaps they were quite aware that in a few months they would graduate and move from wearing seminarians' hats to receiving ordination and becoming priests. So I explained the Kyodan's organization concisely, as follows.
The Kyodan nurtures ministers to serve the church, which involves two important aspects. One aspect is training in the seminary established by the Kyodan or in another approved seminary. The other aspect is certification by the Commission on Ministerial Qualifications, which is made up of ministers who are elected as commission members at the General Assembly. In accordance with the Kyodan's constitutional bylaws, the commission approves as ministerial candidates persons who have successfully passed the ministerial qualification examination that is based on the Kyodan's Confession of Faith. Following approval, the candidates are commissioned and ordained by one of the 17 district assemblies, and the qualified ministers are received by local churches.
The seminarians nodded as they listened. Perhaps they understood one organizational part of the Kyodan. It was a short time, but also a tranquil one. However, later I was surprised to learn that three of the students were foreigners from three different countries (Vietnam, the Philippines, Korea). The seminary professor said, "The number of men sensing a calling to become priests has declined drastically." I could not hear his words as if they were only someone else's business. Presently, I am very concerned about the decreasing number of people being called into the ministry in the Kyodan. (Tr. WJ)
Kyodan General Secretary